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Columbia, Graphophone Grand, and Busy Bee Cylinders - Catalogue Listings 1896-1909


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I missed this too!  Thanks for the heads-up, Bruce.

 

However, I'm confused.  Allan Sutton states that Edison began offering moulded records in March 1901, which exactly a year earlier than is stated in other works (such as Wile, Koenigsberg, Frow, and others).  I always believed that the Edison Model C Reproducer was introduced in February 1902, in conjunction with the new moulded records. 

 

At the same time, unless I'm misreading "Part 2: Columbia XP (Molded) Cylinders, 31000-33000 Series, Released 1901-1909," Mr. Sutton states that Columbia introduced its moulded cylinders in March 1901.  Does this mean that Columbia introduced its moulded records a year earlier than Edison?  (Or have I been wrong all these years about when Edison introduced Gold-Moulded Records?)  I've been able to find no Columbia advertisements mentioning moulded records in 1901, although they're touted in 1902. 

 

I respect Mr. Sutton's research, but this is puzzling.  Someone please straighten me out...

 

George P.

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Hi George,

 

I'm away from all my notes but I think Columbia forced Edison's hand on molding, not the other way around (as Allan states)... or, more likely, they both hit a wall at the same time on the limits of pantograph copying.  That happened in March 1901 (with Edison following in 1902) and there were other changes as well.  Columbia abandoned the block numbering system which had already become unwieldy due to filled blocks.  Also, they finally standardized on 160 rpm as the speed of all standard size (not concert) cylinders. 

 

They branded their molding process XP whereas Edison called his records gold molded.

 

As you know, the first molded Columbia cylinders were in brown wax.  Most people view them all as identical copies but they are not.  The catalog number etched adjacent to the recording grooves has a suffix.  That's a take number and it appears that many takes were made and used for molding.  32259-5 (JW Myers singing In The Sweet Bye and Bye) is different from 32259-6.  The "musician fatigue" that we hear in many batch-produced brown wax cylinders is also evident in these early molded Columbia's.

 

Edison, of course, took a different route.  He molded black wax from day 1 and, for no apparent reason, resisted the idea of printing the record title on the cylinder.  He also had a sub-master system so all molds produced identical records.

 

Most of Allan's notes are spot on, though he should have clarified that this covers American releases only.  The fragmentary catalog information on Columbia cylinder releases in other countries is not included (perhaps because it's so spotty).  Also, for some reason, he omitted an index to the pre-XP era block system.  This is in the seminal discography Kenneth Lorenz produced way back in 1981.  It's handy, so I'm attaching it for those who want to supplement Allan's listing.

 

John

IMG_3051.thumb.JPG.ff5a280f4459204c7ab8a7135db6d449.JPG

 

 

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John, I was wondering if Columbia's block system was abandoned BEFORE the moulded XP records were introduced.  That might cause confusion for a researcher who believes that the two things occurred at the same time.  I can't get past the absence of Columbia advertising for XP records in 1901. 

 

George P.

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Hi George,

 

You're right that the absence of XP marketing makes no sense.  After all, we're talking about Columbia! 

 

My source - and I suspect Allan's - is the Lorenz discography.  If anyone has Columbia catalogs from 1899 - 1901, that would help clarify this conundrum.

 

The answer to your block system question is "sort of yes."  By 1899, some blocks had gotten large (e.g. Columbia Orchestra) and new blocks were needed for new artists and genres (e.g., Bert Morphy and Hebrew songs).  So, for example, most J.W. Myers cylinders are in the 6000 block but the ones made later with orchestral accompaniment are in a new 24000 block.  In 1900, one sees a lot of these higher numbered Columbia's, all produced pantographically.  

 

With the rationale for block numbering undermined by catalog size, the handwriting was on the wall. In early 1901, one sees the last set of block titles, Russian songs in the 31200 block.  Then, when migrating to a chron system, did Columbia create a clear separator (like starting at 40000)?  Nope!  They just went to the next logical block (31300) with their revised cataloging system.

 

Hope this helps.

 

John

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Thanks John.  I've never researched the question of exactly when Columbia's moulded records appeared, but a full year before Edison's did - and with no advertising - seems highly unlikely.  I'm afraid Mr. Sutton may have assumed that the numbering change denoted the new moulded records (and unfortunately lumped the Edison product in with it).  Mr. Lorenz did not venture to say so, as seen on page 36 of his book where he dates "Two-Minute Brown Wax and XP Cylinders":

lorenz001.jpg.ae9ac115ae0b70030e9ef932f7c29dc6.jpg

 

Later this week, I'll do a careful review of the advertisements in my collection, and those that appear in The Music Trade Review in hopes of finding a point when Columbia's moulded records were advertised.

 

George P.

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George and John-

 

I have an original 1901 Columbia Record Catalogue.  There is no month printed anywhere, so I'm not sure when in 1901 it was published.

 

The numbering system is continuous thru 31502.  It appears that 31300-31302 was dedicated to Chinese Vocal Solos.  31303-31307 was dedicated the Negro Dialect Talking Records.  And 31308-31502 was randomly dedicated to vocal solos, coon songs, and others.  After 31307, there does not appear to be a dedicated run of numbers to a particular selection or genre.  But I have not checked closely for blocks associated with particular artists.  The catalogue is delicate and I have to handle it carefully.

 

I've attached some photos for you.

 

Mark

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Mark, thanks for showing that 1901 catalog.  It's clear that Columbia's conventional brown wax was numbered well into the 31000 series.

 

I did some sleuthing today in The Music Trade Review and found what I was looking for.  In the last weeks of 1901 and the first 8 weeks of 1902, Columbia's advertisements mentioned only the 50 cent "Small Records" and the $1.00 "Grand Records," along with the new "COLUMBIA DISC GRAPHOPHONES using FLAT RECORDS."

 

Then in the March 8, 1902 issue, a new ad appeared, offering "The Celebrated Columbia Records" for only 30 cents apiece or $3.60 per dozen.  These were formerly 50 cents each, or $5.00 per dozen.  The same ad asks in large font, "Have You Heard the New Columbia Moulded Record?  A WORLD BEATER.  Adapted to all machines;  almost as loud ad the Grand."  Then, taking a dig at Edison's newly-introduced moulded records, the ad states:  "All Columbia Records can be shaved and the blank recorded upon.  This is true of no other new record on the market."  Neat, huh?

 

1300786833_MTR-Mar81902ad.png.b571d85ffa74cb2494724831f94bf407.png

 

I have already contacted Allan Sutton, and he graciously thanked me for the heads-up, and said that he would be taking down the current work (which he admitted hadn't been updated in many years) and replacing it with a much improved and updated version.

 

George P.

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George - not sure what you mean by “conventional” brown wax. The 31300 and above titles are all

molded. The ones <31300 are pantographed.  There’s a reason this era is called transitional!

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8 hours ago, Analogous said:

George - not sure what you mean by “conventional” brown wax. The 31300 and above titles are all

molded. The ones <31300 are pantographed.  There’s a reason this era is called transitional!

 

John - are you suggesting that Columbia listed pantographed records and moulded records side-by-side in a catalog with no distinction (including price)?  The final image of Mark's catalog shows #31498 on the lower right of the right-hand page.

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Yup. That’s what they did. As old inventory was depleted they recorded a new 160 rpm molded version often replacing piano accompaniment for an orchestra and sometimes changing artist. 

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5 hours ago, Analogous said:

Yup. That’s what they did. As old inventory was depleted they recorded a new 160 rpm molded version often replacing piano accompaniment for an orchestra and sometimes changing artist. 

 

But what about the price difference?  There's no mention of that in the 1901 catalog.

 

I understand that an earlier title made on a pantographed record was often remade on a moulded record, but this is a 1901 catalog.  1901 - showing numbers as late as 31502.  In 1901 - - and probably early 1901, since the company wouldn't want a catalog to be "outdated" in a month or two.

 

George P.

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Guys, while looking up a title for Bob, I realized there are a couple more blocks per the attached photo.  31356 thru 31370 for Church Organ and 31458 skipping some number to 31478 (Church Organ) with Violin Obligato,  If you read the caption below the Church Organ title, it notes that these selections are being listed for the first time.

 

PS The catalogue is 64 pages long...!!

 

Mark

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7 hours ago, Phonomark said:

George....No there's no mention of moulded records.  And the price is stated as 50 cents each or $5.00 per dozen.

 

Mark

 

Thanks Mark.

 

George P.

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